The Aquarium of Niagara is getting $1.75 million in funding for its $5 million renovation project from the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board.
The funding, which comes from money raised through the sale of unallocated hydropower generated at the Niagara Power Project, will help finance the construction of a new exhibit at the aquarium, which is launching a six-phase initiative to turn it into a world-class attraction.
Board officials said Tuesday they hope the upgraded aquarium will give the nearly 12 million people who visit Niagara Falls each year additional things to do, leading them to stay longer and spend more than the estimated $50 per day that each visitor currently spends.
Other projects receiving funding from the board include:
• $750,000 for OSC Manufacturing & Equipment Services, an affiliate of Ontario Specialty Contracting, that is moving to the site of the former American Axle plant in Buffalo.
OSC plans a $17.5 million project to convert the former auto parts plant into factory space for the production of electric powered mini-excavators and other equipment, in addition to a heavy equipment rental and service business.
The project is expected to retain 20 jobs and create 26 new positions.
• $500,000 for D&W Cheese/Yancey’s Fancy, a cheese manufacturer in Pembroke that is planning a $20 million project to nearly quadruple the size of its factory.
The project will add 112,000 square feet of production space that will be used for distribution, offices and employee facilities.
The company had been considering the purchase of an existing dairy operation in Wisconsin in place of the local expansion, putting the local jobs at risk, said Christina Orsi, Empire State Development’s regional director in Buffalo.
The company, which currently employs 65, said it expects to create 50 new jobs. “This is a significant business expansion,” Orsi said.
• $250,000 for the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission to help fund a $290,000 study to develop a program to improve tourist destinations in the corridor. The corridor includes the Michigan Street Baptist Church, the Rev. Jesse Nash House, the Colored Musicians Club and the Langston Hughes Institute, but only two of those sites are considered to be ready for visitors.
•$166,912 for the Field & Fork Network to conduct a $174,912 feasibility study, marketing analysis and business plan to create a food hub in Western New York and help local farmers capitalize on additional local sales. The study is expected to take 40 weeks to complete.
• $154,500 for Global Outreach Mission for a project to provide job training in the construction trades and housing rehabilitation services for Niagara Falls residents. The program aims to provide eight weeks of classroom training to residents who qualify for the program. The participants then would rehabilitate abandoned homes and turn them into affordable housing within the city.
“They do have a waiting list right now,” Orsi said.
The grant funding will allow Global Outreach Mission to triple the number of students participating each year – from the current 30 students to 90 – and allow for the hiring of two additional teachers for a one-year period. The grant also would fund the purchase of power and hand tools, as well as classroom equipment.
• $150,000 for Niagara Label Co., a family-owned label printing business, for the $938,800 second phase of a two-phase, $1.56 million project that will increase the production capacity of its factory in the Village of Akron and lead to the creation of 17 jobs.